NY Giants 13, Dallas Cowboys 7: Saquon Barkley TD run allows Big Blue to regain the lead
ARLINGTON, Texas - The Giants got a reality check in their loss to the Detroit Lions four days ago. Now comes the gut check.
Because despite all the optimism that surrounded Brian Daboll's Giants for the first three months of the season, and rightfully so, given the best start for the franchise since 2008, they'll take the field inside AT&T Stadium for their clash on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys overwhelmed by a bunch of uncertainty.
Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. A short week of preparation off an emotional downer in their worst performance yet.
And the challenge of facing a Dallas team - sporting the same 7-3 record - that is coming off its best showing in a while after putting 40 points on the 8-win Vikings on the road in a blowout victory.
So what does that mean for the Giants? A tall task to pick up a triumph on Turkey Day, but an opportunity to prove their mettle.
Daniel Jones is 1-4 as a starter against the Cowboys, including three losses in games started by Dak Prescott. Prescott, meanwhile, is 9-2 in his career against the Giants, including nine straight starts after losing twice in his rookie season.
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This was a gut check for the Giants in the first half and they answered the bell. Graham Gano's 47-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter was good, and the Giants took a 13-7 lead into halftime over the Cowboys.
Shorthanded in the secondary without Adoree' Jackson (knee) and Fabian Moreau (oblique), the Giants are battling against the Cowboys' top receivers and winning their share of plays. Rodarius Williams had the first interception of his career in the first half to keep the Cowboys off the scoreboard, and then Julian Love did the same with a second pick of Dak Prescott, snaring a deflection by Darnay Holmes, who had very good coverage in the slot.
The Giants came out aggressive and they need to stay that way offensively. That allowed them to answer the Cowboys' first touchdown of the game on an Ezekiel Elliott run when Daniel Jones dialed up a deep shot to Darius Slayton, who made an acrobatic catch down to the 1-yard line.
Two plays later, Saquon Barkley scored from two yards out and the Giants were back in front, 10-7.
The Giants' defense got off the field with a turnover on downs and an interception on the first two drives. They got 3 points from the offense out of it. The defense is doing its job. Need to do more offensively. Giving up pressure on third and 1 and leading to Jones' rushed throw isn't complementary football.
On the next series, Jones felt the pressure again on a third-and-short, but was able to get the ball out to Richie James, who made a nice grab to move the sticks at midfield.
Graham Gano looked like death warmed over in Sunday's loss to Detroit. He missed two extra points, one of which was blocked. But by Tuesday, Gano said he was feeing better, and early against the Cowboys, he looked it.
The Giants settled for a 57-yard field goal after forcing a turnover on downs when Jaylon Smith and Jason Pinnock stopped Ezekiel Elliott short of the sticks on fourth and short. And Gano nailed the kick with room to spare.
The Giants failed to cash in on Rodarius Williams' first career interception when Dak Prescott threw to a spot and Cee Dee Lamb vacated that area in an apparent miscommunication.
The Giants will be without three starters on the offensive line, and against the Cowboys' dominant front, it's reason to be concerned about the game plan. Nick Gates is expected to start his first game at center since Week 1 of the 2020 season, five days before he suffered a gruesome leg injury that kept him out of action since following seven procedures to repair the damage.
Jack Anderson could step in at left guard. Andrew Thomas, listed questionable with an illness, should be able to give it a go at left tackle. Tyre Phillips and Matt Peart could split time at right tackle.
Cowboys 31, Giants 20: The Giants need a better showing in this spot than the one they had at home on Sunday against the Lions. They are shorthanded, especially at cornerback without their starting tandem of Adoree' Jackson and Fabian Moreau, leaving rookie Cor'Dale Flott, Rodarius Williams and Nick McCloud to step in. This can't be a game where the Giants are not competitive, and there is some urgency to show they can scheme up some things that catch the Cowboys off guard. In the end, the Giants' only chance is to cause turnovers and get their best players - Saquon Barkley, Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams - to make game-changing plays, which they have done in key spots earlier this season.